03.23.18

SCHUMER: CAPITAL REGION CIDERIES LIKE ROGERS CIDERYARD IN FULTON COUNTY COULD BE FORCED TO USE TERMS LIKE ‘SPARKLING’ OR ‘CARBONATED’ ON ALL HARD CIDER PRODUCTS; SENATOR SAYS THIS DOES NOTHING BUT CHEAPEN NY’S HARD CIDER INDUSTRY; URGES FEDS TO IMMEDIATELY REVERSE COURSE BEFORE THEY DERAIL NEW YORK’S CRAFT HARD CIDER MOMENTUM

Schumer To Feds: Take Your Buzz Words Off of New York’s Hard Cider

Today, at Rogers Cideryard in Fulton County, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) Administrator John J. Manfreda to immediately reverse a provision in a proposed rule which would mandate the use of the terms ‘sparkling’ or ‘carbonated’ for all of New York’s hard ciders products. Schumer said requiring cideries to label their cider as “carbonated” is confusing for consumers and more importantly it runs counter to New York Cider’s desire to compete with beer, rather than champagnes and sparkling wines.  This puts the burgeoning industry and new cideries at a significant disadvantage as they seek to broaden their appeal to consumers. 

“Cideries and craft breweries throughout Albany and the Capital Region pour local products and jobs into our economy, which is why we must make sure their exciting growth is not choked off by bureaucratic nonsense that makes no sense and hurts New York’s hard cider industry. In order for these local cideries like Rogers Cideryard to expand and create more good-paying local jobs, we need the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to back off their requirement to force cideries to use the terms ‘sparkling’ or ‘carbonated’ for all New York’s hard ciders products. Simply put, this does nothing but misidentify  local cider products and makes it harder for smaller companies to compete with commercial brands. That is why I am calling on the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to immediately reverse course; they should understand that I am watching this issue very closely to make sure Rogers Cideryard and other cideries throughout Upstate New York can grow and operate without nonsensical mandate,” said Senator Schumer.

According to the New York Cider Association, New York State has 90 cideries, the most of any state, and a 300% increase over the last 5 years.  In 2017, hard cider contributed more than $100M to the state including output and labor.

Schumer has long fought for New York’s cider industry. Schumer was responsible for the passage of the CIDER Act, bipartisan legislation he first introduced in 2013. Schumer’s bill, the CIDER Act, updated the definition for hard apple and pear cider in the Internal Revenue Code IRC by increasing their allowed alcohol by volume from 7 percent to 8.5 percent and increasing their allowed carbonation levels, encompassing significantly more hard cider products and allowing them to be labeled and taxed like hard cider, rather than wine or champagne. In 2013, Schumer first argued this would allow the over 650 apple growers and 20 existing hard apple cider producers at the time to expand their business. As these numbers continue to increase each year, Schumer said it is important now more than ever for New York State growers and producers to able to add this increasingly popular craft beverage to their product lines. New York is the second largest apple producer nationwide, harvesting a total of 29.5 million bushels annually from over 650 farms and 41,000 acres across the state. In recent years, thanks to the growing popularity of hard cider, many apple producers have turned to producing this craft beverage as a method to keep apple orchards profitable, generate new economic development opportunities, and attract a new visitor demographic to their farms.

Schumer’s letter to Administrator Manfreda appears below:

John J. Manfreda

Administrator

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau

Dear Administrator Manfreda:

My constituents, including the New York Cider Association, have informed me of their concerns with a proposed rule which would mandate the use of the terms ‘sparkling’ or ‘carbonated’ for their hard ciders products. It is my understanding that the use of these terms for a certain level of hard cider carbonation would not clarify any distinction for consumers or regulators and could cause confusion or degrade the image of hard cider products. I urge the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to withdraw the proposal mandating that hard cider producers use the terms ‘sparkling’ or ‘carbonated’ in their labeling. 

I was the author of the CIDER Act of 2015 and helped pass this needed legislation as part of the PATH Act of 2015. The CIDER Act eliminated unnecessary burdens on cider producers by clarifying the alcohol and CO2 limits in hard cider, clarifying the definition of hard cider, and simplifying its taxation for cider makers. The Act specifically replaced the old 0.392 grams of CO2 per 100ml limits for hard cider with a threshold of 0.64 grams.

TTB has since issued a proposed regulation to implement the Act. One of the provisions in this proposed rule would mandate the labeling of hard ciders containing carbonation between 0.392 grams and 0.64 grams of CO2 per 100 ml as 'sparkling' or 'carbonated'. TTB has stated that this labeling is necessary to confirm the new tax status of hard cider above the old carbonation limits and to conform with regulations regarding the labeling of carbonated wine. However, the CIDER Act clarified the definition for hard cider in the internal revenue code, separating it from carbonated wines, and eliminated the old carbonation limits. It is unclear why TTB could not simply address these issues through the regulatory process without mandating harmful changes to the labeling of hard cider. Cideries in New York have expressed their concern that this labeling would create confusion and undermine their brand. As the author of the CIDER Act, I can confirm that the proposed labeling was not intended by the CIDER Act.

I would urge TTB to carefully consider the submission made by the New York Cider Association concerning this proposed regulation (Docket ID: TTB-2016-0014). Again, I urge the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to withdraw the proposal mandating that hard cider producers use the terms ‘sparkling’ or ‘carbonated’ in their labeling. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

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